I don’t know if there’s a suitable analogy to describe moving the NFL draft from a moat on a Strip teeming with thirsty football fans to a remote-controlled sound stage being patrolled by ESPN’s Trey Wingo, a solitary man wearing a garish suit of pinstripes.
But the one that first popped into mind was the Arlington Million. And how in 1985 when the grandstands burned to the ground at the iconic horse racing palace in the Chicago suburbs, bleachers on which to sit and tents in which to place wagers were brought in and put up, and the fifth installment of the world’s first million-dollar horse race went off as scheduled.
The show may not always go on under extraordinary circumstances. But when it does, you tend to remember it a lot longer.
That’s the first thing I thought when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on my TV screen shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday and his nostrils began to flare in high definition.
It took 48 minutes to get through the first three picks.
If you weren’t so tired of “Hogan’s Heroes” reruns and simulated stock car racing, this might have been a good time to #BooTheCommish, per a Bud Light Seltzer charitable commitment to those reeling from the pandemic virus.
Other observations from the stay-at-home first round:
■ The high crown on Joe Burrow’s Bengals cap made him look like Chef Boyardee.
■ A painting of the Redskins’ logo in coach Ron Rivera’s den looked like something you’d see at a wake with a closed casket.
■ That was some amazing self-discipline by new Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s inner circle, leaving what appeared to be several mouthwatering trays of appetizers virtually untouched.
■ At first it appeared Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman was wearing a mask in his basement to protect himself from an old lamp, as he was otherwise alone. It was later revealed that Gettleman had gone through chemotherapy for lymphoma a couple of years ago, and that there was an IT guy in his home that he wanted to protect himself from, just in case.
■ Those Hulu shirts worn by Tua Tagovailoa’s peeps were worth $91,250 in advertising value.
■ Best early first-round visual: Jets’ pick Mekhi Becton pushing a pickup truck up a hill.
■ Make that second-best first-round visual, at least if you’re a pro football fan living in Las Vegas. With the next pick, the Raiders selected wide receiver Henry Ruggs III of Alabama. This was an astonishing development — not the pick per se, but that a city that was not permitted to refer to the “Super Bowl” in casino ads for the longest time now has draft picks in the biggest game of all.
■ My dad would have loved Ruggs’ Old Spice robe.
■ Jerry Jones’ $250 million yacht made the Cowboys’ owner appear to be social distancing himself from the entire planet.
■ The mystery of what was happening in Mike Vrabel’s house set Twitter on fire.
■ Show of hands: After #BooTheCommish donned a V-neck sweater for the second half of the first-round picks, how many also wanted him to try on those old-time cleats in his bookcase/curio cabinet for size?
■ And then conk himself in the head with the big shoe for having announced that Dallas — er, Las Vegas — was supposed to host the 2020 draft before the pandemic hit, and because so many here had made the effort to put on a really big show, that the Las Vegas Raiders will host the 2020 draft instead.
#BooTheCommish if you must. Obviously, he meant the 2022 draft, as Cleveland already has dibs on next year’s.
But otherwise, the first round of the first virtual draft in NFL history went off about as well as anybody could have hoped.
Nobody’s cat pulled a plug out of the wall, disconnecting a laptop. Nobody dropped an F-bomb or used a racial slur. Nobody got tired of watching Pizza Hut Draft moments (upon further review, check back after the final rounds Saturday.)
In fact, by the time the Vikings got around to trading the 25th pick to the 49ers, messages on social media were popping up that football fans were enjoying the scaled back presentation. And that maybe, just maybe, less is more when it comes to the NFL draft.
But if you were a cocktail waitress that had been assigned to the mote near the Bellagio fountains before this virus reared its brutal haloed head, you have every right to disagree.